Identity theft is everywhere, you open yourself up to it every time you use your credit card, put your information onto a website and basically live your life in the electronic age. Nothing is more annoying than having your credit card shut down for fraud, especially if it’s a business card. In this day and age it is getting easier and easier for criminals to clone or steal your information to use it for their own gain. So how do you protect yourself from becoming a victim?

The following tips will help you to protect your business, your employees, and your customers from becoming victims of identity theft.

  • Create and follow a security strategy in your business plan.
  • Designate a top level manager to implement the plan if you become a victim.
  • If you need assistance in designing a plan, enlist an expert.
  • Protect your business records on file with the Ohio Secretary of State by taking the following steps:
  • Assign a trusted person to be responsible for maintaining and monitoring your business record with the Secretary of State.
  • Sign up for e-mail notification about changes to your business record.
  • Sign up for Secure Business Filing.
  • Note your renewal/reporting dates in your business calendar and file the renewal/report on time.
  • File any changes to your business in a timely fashion (such as address, registered agent, name changes, or other changes.)
  • Periodically check your business details on the Ohio Secretary of State’s website.
  • If changes have been made without your permission or knowledge, report the fraud to the Ohio Secretary of State immediately and correct your business record. Please see the “Checklist for Victims” for additional steps to protect your business.
  • Dissolve your business on the Secretary of State’s website if you determine that you will no longer be doing business. However, do not unsubscribe from e-mail notification in order to monitor the business record for unauthorized activity.
  • Report any lost or stolen credit cards immediately to law enforcement and the credit card provider.
  • Monitor your accounts and bills and immediately report any suspicious activity to the originating company.
  • Protect your EIN (employer identification number), account numbers, and other personal information.
  • Create and follow a policy for carrying, using, and reporting a lost or stolen business credit card.

Inventory documents that you maintain

  • Store only those documents you must keep, and keep them in a safe and secure location.
  • If you plan to discard documents, shred them using a cross cut or “confetti” shredder.
  • Treat the personal information of your customers and employees with as much concern as you would treat your own.
  • Do not share any sensitive information in e-mails or on any Web based service.
  • If you must share sensitive information over the Web, check that the website is secure by looking for “https” in the website address.
  • Provide employees with a safe and secure location to keep their personal items (wallets, purses, car keys, etc.) while at work.
  • Store employee information such as personnel files, tax, and payroll information in a secure location and limit the number of people who have access to these files.
  • Use passwords to protect sensitive information.
  • Avoid creating “master” users who have complete access to all of the business’s sensitive information.

For more information, visit the Ohio Secretary of State Website